PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Over 800 universities say SAT and ACT scores are optional when applying for college admission and Point Park University is now one of them.

“Test scores usually don’t indicate success over the course of four years,” Gary Bracken, Point Park’s vice president of enrollment management told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Tuesday.

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Bracken says students with a 3.0 grade point average or above in high school don’t need to submit SATs or ACTs, relying instead on “submission of transcripts and other material that we can use for a holistic evaluation of the student rather than just depending on the test scores.”

Bob Schaeffer of FairTest says it’s a growing trend.

“Schools have recognized that test scores are not a very good measure of who is likely to succeed in college. In fact, high school grades are a better predictor of college graduation.”

University of Pittsburgh junior AJ Denne of Monroeville couldn’t agree more.

“My SAT scores were terrible, and I currently have a 3.7 GPA here, so I don’t think SAT scores say what kind of student that you are.”

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Point Park is not the first local school to go test optional. Chatham University did so in 2006.

“On average 5 to 8 percent of our student body will take advantage of that, so less than 10 percent,” says Amy Becher, Chatham’s vice president for enrollment management.

But it’s a valuable option for some.

In addition to helping high school students who tend to freeze when they take those ACTs or SATs, this test optional admissions policy also increases diversity on campus.

Because there is a correlation between higher income and better test scores, says FairTest’s Schaeffer says, “Schools that have gone test optional find that they get strong increases in the number of African Americans, Latinos, first generational students of all racial backgrounds, rural students, and others who were previously locked out.”

Adds Point Park’s Bracken, “We’re hoping to diversify our population here, and that’s one way I know to do it.”

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